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Practice Statement: Communication

Many people with disabilities do not communicate using ‘formal’ capacities such as speech. This does not mean that they cannot communicate but, rather, that they do so in a different way. Communication is a crucial human right, as it allows people to express their wants and needs, and interact with others.

Practice Definition: Communication

What would be observed in practice:

  • Assumptions are never made about what a person can or can’t understand
  • People are spoken to directly – talk ‘to’ the person, not ‘about’ the person
  • If you can’t understand what’s being said, don’t pretend – ask again
  • Time is taken – some people may take a little longer to understand and respond
  • Support staff place themselves at eyelevel when speaking with someone who uses a wheelchair
  • Interpreters are available to support people when required, eg cultural support, Outcomes Discovery Interviews and planning
  • Advice/assistance is sought from agencies such as Talklink, or a speech therapist regarding tools like Makaton, gesture dictionaries, photo albums, PECs or any type of technology which may be of benefit to the person
  • People are offered choices every day
  • Support staff respond to any and all forms of communication, eg speech, sign, body language etc
  • Environments allow opportunities for people to have meaningful interactions

Role-based Resources

Residential Staff

Discussion Questions

  1. Complete the Communication Observation Form for your Key Person or someone in the house. What are the communication needs of the people in the house and how do they differ? How should we change our communication styles to accommodate these differences?
  2. Watch the video about John’s Story and the blog post “Let him shout…” and discuss why it is important that people with disabilities, including those in this house, can communicate. What do we do to support and encourage people to communicate with us and others? Can we do more?
  3. Watch the video about Offering Choices. What types of choices do we offer the people we support? How do we react to these choices – i.e. do we follow through immediately, do we respect their choices? Can we offer people a wider variety of choices?
  4. What does the ‘Right to effective communication’ mean in practice?

Community Services

Discussion Questions

  • Complete the Communication Observation Form and:
    • (if you support more than one person) how do their communication needs differ? How should we change our communication styles to accommodate these differences?
    • (if you support one person) how does it differ to your communication needs? How should you change your communication style to accommodate these differences?
  • Watch the video about Offering Choices. What types of choices do we offer the people we support? How do we react to these choices – i.e. do we follow through immediately, do we respect their choices? Can we offer people a wider variety of choices?

Activities

Hub and Support Staff

Discussion Questions

  1. Discuss the relationship that Communication has with the other Practices in the Practice Framework. Given its importance in all aspects of the Framework is there more we can do to emphasise good communication practice to staff?
  2. Watch the videos on Talking Mats and Aided Language Stimulation. Teaching communication and giving people the opportunity to make choices takes time, how do we support our staff to have that time and how do we motivate them to persevere?
  3. Discuss how the various strategies shown here, and the other ones you know about, can be utilised to get feedback on Spectrum Care’s services. Is there anything we can incorporate into current process and practice over the next month?

Managers and Coordinators

Discussion Questions

  1. Discuss the relationship that Communication has with the other Practices in the Practice Framework. Given its importance in all aspects of the Framework is there more we can do to emphasise good communication practice to staff?
  2. Watch the videos on Talking Mats and Aided Language Stimulation. Teaching communication and giving people the opportunity to make choices takes time, how do we support our staff to have that time and how do we motivate them to persevere?
  3. Discuss how the various strategies shown here, and the other ones you know about, can be utilised to get feedback on Spectrum Care’s services. Is there anything we can incorporate into current process and practice over the next month?

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